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highwaymen

highwaymen are more picturesque in fiction and retrospect than they were in reality. The heyday of the highwayman was from the Restoration, when coaches began to appear on the roads in large enough numbers to make the occupation profitable, to the end of the 18th cent., when stage-coaches travelled with armed guards and policing was better. There was usually a flurry of highway robbery after each great war, with demobilized soldiers turning their hands to it. Because of the density of traffic, the outskirts of London were particularly frequented by robbers, and Finchley Common, Hounslow Heath, Bagshot Heath, and Blackheath all acquired a bad reputation. The Newmarket road was also hazardous, especially near Epping Forest. Highwaymen soon became popular heroes, accorded the sneaking admiration reserved in the 20th cent. for the great train robbers. The exploits of Claude Duval (a ladies' man), William Nevinson, James Whitney, Jack Sheppard (an escapologist), Dick Turpin, and ‘Sixteen-string’ Jack Rann, often turned into execrable verse, sold in broadsheets and ballads, usually accompanied by a woodcut of the final gallows scene. Highwaymen were expected to die game.

J. A. Cannon

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Highwaymen

328. Highwaymen (See also Outlawry, Thievery.)

  1. Band of Merry Men Robin Hoods brigands. [Br. Lit.: Robin Hood ]
  2. Beane, Sawney English highwayman whose gang slew and ate their victims. [Brit. Folklore: Misc.]
  3. Duval, Claude 17th-century British highwayman; subject of ballads. [Br. Legend: Harvey, 256]
  4. Faggus, Tom stole, especially from the Doone clan. [Br. Lit.: Lorna Doone, Magill I, 524526]
  5. Highwayman, the loves an innkeepers daughter, who vainly tries to save him from capture. [Br. Poetry: Noyes The Highwayman ]
  6. Hood, Robin outlaw; stole from rich to give to poor. [Br. Lit.: Robin Hood ]
  7. King, Tom the Gentleman Highwayman; associate of Dick Turpin. [Br. Hist.: Brewer Note-Book, 363]
  8. Macheath, Captain highwayman hero of the opera. [Br. Lit.: Beggars Opera ]
  9. Moons men highwaymen; worked their crimes by night. [Br. Lit.: I Henry IV ]
  10. Rob Roy Robin Hood of Scotland. [Br. Lit.: Rob Roy ]
  11. Turpin, Dick (17061739) enjoyed short and brutal career as horsestealer and highwayman. [Br. Hist.: NCE, 2808]
  12. Twitcher, Jemmy treacherous and crafty brigand. [Br. Lit.: Beggars Opera ]

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highwaymen

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